4 Brilliant & Creative Ways to Support Anxious Kids

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We are all a little frazzled and worn down at this time of year, and this is especially true after the past couple of very strange years. This means lots of us have worries or fears, and this includes kids.

I remember very clearly being a kid who worried a lot — and I have become an adult, and a mom, who still struggles with ruminating about things. When my daughter started to share her own worries and concerns regularly, I initially felt — well, worried — that she would be like me. Then I realized that being a worrier myself, I am in a great position to understand and not dismiss her concerns, and teach her the kind of tools that might have helped me as a kid. So we spend lot of time talking about what to do with feelings in the body, observing thoughts, and other techniques to deal with worries.

To be clear, none of this is a replacement for listening, and even seeking help where needed, when kids have a clear need for support. This is more about ideas for helping kids with those persistent fears, or mental loops, about monsters, separation, or “what ifs?”

As much as I’d love to promise my daughter that everything will be absolutely fine forever, no parent can do that. One of the main jobs of raising children is to gradually move from being the all-knowing source of comfort to the person that gives them the tools and resilience to eventually cope without you. So while I do comfort and reassure her when she brings me a worry, it’s often just that she can’t stop thinking about something troubling that she has seen, or a future scenario her brain has come up with. I really relate to this, and to that inability to move on from an idea. To help, I had come across the idea of small ritualistic actions that help us refocus our thoughts. These strategies work well for kids — and are fun too!

Monster Spray

This is one I used when my kids were really little and worried about sleeping alone — a fear that was often expressed as fear of monsters. A friend suggested I try monster spray. I bought a clear plastic mister bottle, filled it with water and few drops of lavender oil (to hopefully promote sleep), and slapped on a big label that said “Monster Spray”. When needed, she was allowed to spray it around the corners of her room a little, and this simple act helped her to feel proactive and to focus on sleep.

Be sure to use a clean bottle, supervise them in using it, and keep it out of their reach when not in use.

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